Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Press Releases

Entries for the 'E-Learning' Category

If you said newspapers, you are wrong. As Gordon Borrell of Borrell Associates pointed out on a recent webinar “The Quiet Revolution Reshaping Local Media” it is not newspapers or yellow pages or even television, it’s digital since all of those mediums employ digital. According to Borrell singular “medium” companies will begin to shrink in the future and media companies will morph and survive. “New media peels off growth from older media and never kills off its primary competitor.”

Newspapers do currently have the top share of advertising but that will soon change. By 2016 Borrell predicts that online will dominate with 29% share and newspapers will be second with 21%.

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Local Media Association members have the opportunity to register for Friday’s webinar being conducted by The Center for Sales Strategy in conjunction with CNPA (California Newspaper Publishers Association). The webinar is 30 minutes in length and is open to the first 500 members that register from Local Media Association and CNPA.

Kurt Sima, a VP/Sr. Consultant at the Center for Sales Strategy (CSS) will host How to Build Proposals that Close. Kurt works with newspapers to increase revenue by improving salespeople’s focus and expertise.

Click here to register.

*Please note when making your time choices that the webinar is being conducted in Pacific Standard Time.

A special thanks to CNPA for making this available to Local Media Association members!

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By Tanya Henderson, Advertising & Membership Relations Director, Local Media Association

As many you are springing into deals action, you may want to take note of a new strategy by GateHouse’s Canton Repository as they recently held a Demystifying Deals workshop with nearly 50 local businesses participating.

Mike Blinder of The Blinder Group stepped out of his more traditional selling role and educated business decision makers on how to get into the deals space with the local newspaper. Canton’s goal: 50 deals in two weeks. The idea is to fill the pipeline so you are always ahead of the curve by having a deal scheduled. According to Blinder the “deals process needs extra hand holding.” Chris White, General Manager of The Repository agreed. “We’re not selling anything. We’re asking for a cut on the back end” which is new for sales reps. Canton has recruited a deals specialist to work with the sales reps at closing the sales. According to White “There’s a natural close if we can engage the prospect with a concept.” Both the specialist and the sales rep are commissioned at the close of the deal.

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Local Media Association presented the Major Account Outlook last week via conference call with Steve Winslow of Best Buy, Steve Mueller of GeoMentum and Tyler Kelly of Centro. The purpose of the call was to give members the opportunity to ask questions and review plans for 2012. They all are firm believers in community newspapers with local editorial content. “We send insertion orders to 4,500 newspapers every week” said Mueller. Content is critical to them and they are looking for information on enhanced distribution (i.e. social media) as people consume media differently. And all of this “becomes part of the psychology as we try to connect with customers,” said Mueller.

According to Winslow “we want the newspaper to be the eyes and ears in the market.” It’s critical to know growth demos, market shifts, etc. “It’s important to keep us updated” on changes. When they are placing advertising they are looking for the 40-60% penetration in a market.

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Listening to the Mike Blinder webinar on how they created $600,000 in 60 days with GateHouse Media you realize that in a nano-second world that spending time researching and preparing for client meetings is more important than ever.

It does take a village when you put together a sales plan for a company as large as GateHouse: 79 dailies; more than 250 weeklies and 95 shoppers plus more than 400 websites. Blinder had a host of GateHouse executives from around the company (and the country) on the webinar to discuss how they’ve been successful with a focused sales approach.

According to Brad Harmon, Corporate VP of Sales & Marketing digital goals for 2012 will be double this year’s percentages of 25-25%. Harmon says “that is very achievable.”

In order to reach these goals it’s important that three things happen according to Harmon: we simplify, standardize and automate. Infrastructure is key. Currently they have 10 digital specialists in the New England area and plan to add many more where there are regional opportunities.

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The SNA Foundation recently held a webinar for the participants of the McCormick's Specialized Reporting Institute symposium. As a follow-up to symposium, Jane Stevens, Director of Media Strategies with the Lawrence Journal-World shared their year-old community health niche site,, with the group.

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Online Benchmarking Report photo

A canyon has formed between newspapers companies that are gaining share in the digital space and those losing it. The following findings are based on those publications that have shown significant growth in their digital operation:

  • Most are selling “solutions” to advertisers, not just banners on their own websites. These include deal-of-the-day programs, email advertising opportunities, targeted banners, contests, ads delivered through networks to other sites such as Yahoo, Facebook or Google, mobile text offerings, etc.
  • They have a sales force dedicated exclusively to selling online products. Even the smallest newspapers have at least one online-only salesperson. Some have more than two dozen.
  • They have clear and aggressive revenue goals – often not incremental.
  • Their local interactive manager typically reports directly to the publisher, not to the editor or sales manager.
  • They view the web as a platform to go beyond what’s in the printed newspaper and give a greater voice to the community, extend deadlines and compete with other media. The web has allowed suburban and community newspapers to compete more heavily with metro newspapers, radio and television when it comes to in-depth coverage.

These conclusions represent just some of the findings detailed in the recently released Local Online Media Benchmarking Revenue Survey, prepared by Borrell Associates for SNA members.

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SNA’s Interactive Media Alliance (IMA) held a webinar in April on paywalls and metered approaches. Three of our speakers, Roger Coover, President and Publisher, The Stockton Record; Andy Waters, VP, Interactive, Columbia Daily Tribune; and Ernie Schreiber, Director of Content Development, Lancaster Newspapers, Inc., answered a number of questions during the webinar. Below are some we wanted to share. Note that each company has different metered plans and level of experience. For example, Stockton has had a paywall since last year; Columbia’s paywall is fairly new and Lancaster Newspapers is currently only charging for obits outside of their market.

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By Deb Shaw, For the SNA Foundation
Another free e-learning course has just been released by the Suburban Newspapers of America Foundation in conjunction with the Poynter Institute’s NewsUniversity. The e-course, The Community Journalism Series, has two parts – one intended for newsroom leaders to help them develop and manage a UGC program, and one intended for amateur contributors to teach them the fundamentals of contributing to the local media house.

Citizen journalism, user-generated content, pro-amateur journalism, crowd sourcing, blogging, conversational media, participatory journalism, consumer-created content – whatever you call it, using readers, viewers or listeners as a source for content – whether informally via comments or in fully structured relationships – is happening in all forms of media.

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Suburban Newspapers of America, in partnership with Borrell Associates and Kevin McCrudden of MotivateAmerica, is pleased to announce the development of a new media sales certification program scheduled to launch in early Summer 2011. In a recent SNA member questionnaire, we learned there was an overwhelming need for ongoing training to meet the demands of the current media environment. This certification program has been developed to specifically address those needs, as well as, the many ongoing requests we receive for training.

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All are invited to attend this free October 21st webinar

By Deb Shaw, for the SNA Foundation

Ken Doctor photo
Ken Doctor

Noted author and veteran of the digital news industry Ken Doctor will take center stage on October 21st in the next webinar presented by the SNA Foundation. He will present Leading a Newsroom in the Digital News Decade: Newsonomics 2011 and What They Mean to You, and all are invited to attend this free webinar beginning at 2PM Eastern.

Ken Doctor is the author of the book Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get and, among other appearances, recently spoke in St. Paul at The Future of News Summit on the topic of ‘Creating a New Model for Regional Journalism.’ In the SNAF October 21st webinar, Doctor will tailor his presentation to the suburban and community newspaper sector and will delve into how the local landscape in the age of hyper-competition has created a new set of strategies for editors and other newsroom leaders.

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By Deb Shaw, for the SNA Foundation

cake photo
A specialty events & shopping website in the Chicago bedroom community of McHenry County, Illinois is about to celebrate its one year birthday, and the local newspaper folks there will be first in line to blow out the celebratory candle. That’s because Shaw Suburban Media is the company behind the successful PlanIt Northwest - a unique entertainment & shopping portal that is not part of their traditional news site. Instead, it’s all about the ‘go and do’ concept with a brand-specific strategy and an e-commerce component via a local partnership.

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Brad Dennison photo
"There are no more creative places than a newsroom."

Brad Dennison
Vice President
News & Interactive Division
GateHouse Media

By Deb Shaw
Editor, Suburban Publisher

‘How often should I update my website?’ was just one of many questions that stemmed from the wildly popular recent webinar on the topic of Content Differentiation: How to Drive Online Audience without Cannibalizing Print. A practically standing room only crowd, figuratively speaking of course, logged in on a steamy June Thursday morning to hear what GateHouse Media’s Brad Dennison, Vice President, News & Interactive Division and his colleague David Arkin, Executive Director of the division, had to share on the topic and absolutely no one went away disappointed.

With follow up comments like “best webinar ever”, “this sheds tremendous light on important web strategy” and “super useful stuff here”, the webinar-sponsor SNA Foundation knew they hit a home run with this one and a huge debt of gratitude goes to Brad and David. There were many lessons like what content belongs online (and what does not), setting and managing online expectations, how analytics and page views help drive strategy and a quick trip around an open access resource found at We’ll report on different webinar lessons in the future with todays focus having to do with updates.

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Innovation & Ideas Vault Media Companies to New Heights

Mark Weber
Mark Weber, General Manager, Southwest Newspapers

By Deb Shaw
Editor, Suburban Publisher

Two very different companies but similarly minded initiatives are helping these newspaper companies transform. The key ingredients to both — employee involvement and management gets out of the way.

Innovation At Work

Early in the New Year, the SNA Foundation hosted a webinar featuring Mark Briggs, co-author of the Foundation’s latest e-course Innovation at Work: Making New Ideas Succeed. Briggs took center stage to introduce the course and the guiding principles behind the process of creating an innovative culture in the workplace. (Access his presentation here)

Among the 140 registrants drawn to this webinar was Southwest Newspapers (MN) General Manager Mark Weber, who was inspired by Briggs’ suggestion to launch innovation-minded work groups in your company to help push the process of innovation along.

Briggs’ advice: Start small. Think divide and conquer and seed each team with folks with varied areas of expertise. Establish 2 or 3 small groups and give them the authority to launch anything that the whole team agrees they should try. Give them the power to fail. Take care to pick the right people. “Avoid planners,” says Briggs. “You want do-ers.”

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What should and should not go online

GateHouse Media's Brad Dennison and David Arkin

GateHouse Media Vice President of News & Interactive Brad Dennison, left, and Director of News & Interactive David Arkin in the division’s Chicago-based offices. The GateHouse News & Interactive Division provides a wide range of training, services and support to the company’s hundreds of properties across the country. (Photo by John Cox)

With content direction responsibility for GateHouse Media, Brad Dennison has his hands in a wide range of projects but none gets a higher priority than driving and engaging audience in print and online. “Everything we do within the division is ultimately aimed at supporting that mission in some way,” says Dennison, VP of News & Interactive.

Just over a year ago, GateHouse recalibrated their digital strategy to focus on three key components: Constant updating, multimedia and reader involvement. That became a full program called “Web Cube” — a multi-dimensional approach to driving audience, executed in a consistent way across a large, spread out company.

Dennison sat down with Suburban Publisher editor Deb Shaw for the June issue of Suburban Publisher and answered a series of questions that delved into this strategy and the tools aimed at helping their local properties customize the approach to fit their specific needs. Dennison also offered a few tips from the GateHouse News & Interactive Division for better content differentiation between print and online.

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Joe Grimm photo
Joe Grimm is the visiting journalist at MSU and recently led a webinar for the SNA Foundation.

By Deb Shaw
Editor, Suburban Publisher

In his work with journalism students at Michigan State University, Joe Grimm sees it all. From curious and adventurous to completely abashed at the thought of asking subjects any sort of question, let alone impertinent & nosy ones, these kids run the gamut. Despite that, Grimm’s melting pot of undergrads often surprise him by the work they are producing in the digital space and he points to these self-taught projects as good examples of what can be done with contemporary leadership.

One of the early valuable lessons that Grimm imparted in a recent SNA Foundation-sponsored webinar about newsroom leadership was that his students are learning because he tries to make it safe for them to make a mistake and dangerous if they don’t try. That pearl of wisdom speaks volumes about culture, an element that is as important as any single thing you can do to motivate and lead your newsroom into trying and testing new ideas.

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Lessons on how to become innovative

Photo of Mark Briggs
Mark Briggs

By Deb Shaw
Editor, Suburban Publisher

If there was an overriding theme in the lessons taught by Mark Briggs at the SNA Foundation’s first webinar of the New Year it was that, in order for innovation to be practiced at any company, people need to stop planning and start doing.

To illustrate his point, Briggs described a friend who now works as Chief Tech Officer at a local startup in the Seattle area but who had previously worked in a corporate environment in which he managed hundreds. In his former corporate life, the friend tells Briggs that he spent about 80% of his time planning and about 20% doing; in sharp contrast, at the startup company where he now works, he spends only about 5% of his time planning and 95% doing. Marked difference. Old thinking/new thinking; old normal/new normal; legacy company/startup company. There are lessons here folks.

When Briggs took center stage in mid-January to lead the Innovation At Work: An Introduction webinar, he attracted quite an audience — both in quantity and diversity — which speaks volumes about the desire among suburban and community media company staffers to further their practices and thinking when it comes to breaking new ground at their legacy newspaper companies. Briggs’ webinar attracted almost 140 registrants and virtually every job title was represented. Publishers, editors, web managers, ad sales account execs and managers, audience development supervisors, market research folks and more — you name it and that registration list had it. Another testament to the appeal of this topic among local media types.

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By Deb Shaw
Editor, Suburban Publisher

All problems are opportunities.
The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity.
Never miss an opportunity to be fabulous.

What great lines and, coming from the mouth of the infectious Tina Seelig in her talk at Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner, they make eminent sense. This is a very bright woman who heads up Stanford’s Technology Ventures Program and she delivered a speech about The Art of Teaching Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Despite her highfalutin pedigree of advanced degrees and professional accomplishments, she is as down to earth and easy to identify with as you can possibly imagine.

Every newspaper manager should give a listen to her podcast. It’s about 50 minutes long and well worth your time — I guarantee you’ll walk away uplifted and ready for bear. And, you’ll hear how she turned coffee into a helicopter ride over Santiago, Chile. No kidding.

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By Susan Karol, Ph.D.
Executive Director, SNA Foundation

Graduate journalism students participating in the fall Interactive Innovation Project class at Northwestern University’s Medill School recently published a white paper regarding the current status of obituary publishing in the face of changes in technology and audience behavior. The project’s faculty advisers were Rich Gordon, Associate Professor and Director of Digital Innovation; and Owen Youngman, Knight Professor of Digital Media Strategy. Inc., the Evanston, Illinois-based online aggregator of newspaper death notices which partners with more than 800 newspapers, sponsored the project.

The class’ comprehensive report, The State of the American Obituary, traces the history and practice of publishing obituaries and death notices, noting their importance to local newspaper publishers as both a category of content and as a revenue stream. They assert that this is an area where newspapers today still retain a dominant market share.

However, the students found that new user- and family-driven interactive forms of remembering the dead — on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace as well as stand-alone memorial sites and services — are increasingly attracting audience members of all ages who want not only to read about their friends and loved ones, but also to participate in the commemorations. As a result, the media landscape for obituaries is changing, and newspapers must adapt or risk losing readership and revenue in this category.

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By Deb Shaw
Editor, Suburban Publisher

Put the power of individual thought to work for your company

Did you see the report on the news recently about the groom who had just said his “I Do’s” and instead of leaning in to kiss his blushing bride, he pulled out his smart phone to update his marital status on Facebook? Traditionalists were no doubt horrified by such a social gaffe; but that singular act reflects the immediacy of conveying news when it’s important to the person who wants to tell it. There is a lesson here folks.

Social media has been getting lots of ink lately — it’s the current wave coming in from the swells of the big deep unknown of the technology evolution. Strategies abound for utilizing these tools to both disseminate and collect news; for connecting and engaging audiences in narrow channels; and for popularizing and embedding staff writers on more personal levels in the community they serve. SNA has hosted several webinars on relative aspects including a recent discussion on Real Time Syndication, Facebook & Twitter — How To Make These Tools Work In Your Online Newsroom featuring The Hour Company’s Web Development Director Matt Terenzio.

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By Susan Karol, Ph.D.
Executive Director, SNA Foundation

The SNA Foundation has released the full report from its recent ground-breaking research study examining newspaper Web site users’ views about user-submitted content on newspaper Web sites, funded by a grant from the McCormick Foundation.

This free comprehensive report includes extensive executive summary, conclusions and detailed findings from this large study.

More than 3,000 randomly-chosen newspaper Web site users completed online surveys regarding their opinions on whether newspaper Web sites should accept user-generated content, what types of user submissions would be acceptable, how newspapers should manage and regulate these contributions, whether the newspaper’s credibility or integrity is comprised by the acceptance of this material, and more. In addition, more than 200 community newspaper editors and publishers were surveyed to gain their insight on these issues and add perspective to the public study.

Results show that newspaper Web site users do want the ability to participate on these sites. In particular, they are interested in sharing their opinions; such as providing comments on staff-generated stories, posting opinions, contributing to forum discussions, and providing reviews. When asked as to the value of user-submitted content, the most cited response was that this citizen participation allows for diverse points of view. Nearly half of the survey respondents have posted content on a newspaper Web site in the past and more than three-quarters have posted to non-newspaper sites.

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Learn how to initiate new ideas and make them succeed in the latest in a series of free e-learning courses sponsored by the Suburban Newspapers of America (SNA) Foundation. Innovation at Work: Making New Ideas Succeed is now available. The course is professionally produced by Poynter Institute’s News University division.

Innovation at Work logo

If innovation were sold at a store, out of a catalog or on the Web, businesses would snap it up because innovation is so difficult to define, design and, yes, divine.

The next best thing to buying this elusive process of inventing or introducing something new is the latest in a series of e-learning modules from the SNA Foundation: Innovation at Work: Making New Ideas Succeed. And, no purchase necessary — this 4th e-learning course sponsored by the SNA Foundation and produced by The Poynter Institute’s NewsU division is now ready for the taking at no charge, thanks to a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Access the course at

“Innovation is not something that always comes easily or naturally but it definitely can be learned,” says Susan Karol, Executive Director of the SNA Foundation. “This extremely well written course is chock full of information about how both organizations and individuals within organizations can start to look at their business differently and become innovative, a key in helping business forge new paths and make needed changes for a successful future.”

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Matt Terenzio photo
Matt Terenzio, Web Development Director at the Hour Company (CT).

By Deb Shaw
Editor, Suburban Publisher

Lessons on Real Time Web

As Matt Terenzio put it, when we talk about real time web, we’re talking about a change in the way the internet is used. “Twitter and others have set the table and the growing sentiment is that all services must catch up to become real time or become irrelevant,” says Terenzio, Web Development Director for The Hour Company in Norwalk, CT.

This very topic was the center of discussion when Terenzio presented at a recent SNA Foundation-sponsored webinar. He started his presentation by suggesting that he should have delayed talking for just a few seconds to see how many people got itchy... and to make a point. If a few seconds of silence occur in a real life conversation you think there’s something wrong and that’s almost the case in real time web — while a slight delay of a few seconds or even a minute is currently a natural aspect of the real time web, too much of a delay and the user is off to another source. A delay of many minutes is probably too long to satisfy user’s expectations — that’s the reality for today’s typical web user and newsrooms are wise to plan real time web strategies accordingly.

The speed at which web usage is changing is almost as fast as the flow of information on sites like Twitter. Social networks today are huge factors in the real time web and in driving traffic to your websites. While not the end game — and who knows what’s coming next — Twitter and Facebook are certainly active players in today’s user universe and they are valuable tools for newsrooms to attract users and to collect/distribute news & information. Become a pro at using these tools today and you will more easily adapt to whatever comes next because real time web is only moving forward.

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By Deb Shaw

In a highly anticipated recent SNA webinar about Real Estate Advertising Online, a large audience took part in the web based seminar to hear what Peter Conti of Borrell Associates had to say about the current state of real estate online ad spending, and in particular, to better understand where the market is headed as it relates to community newspapers.

Conti more than delivered — he not only provided a good basic understanding of current and forecasted online ad spending but served up a healthy dose of strategic moves that local newspaper companies should be implementing now to capture their share of the tremendous growth that’s forecasted for online advertising in general and for the real estate category in particular.

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Photo of Nancy Lane and Margaretha Engstrom
SNA President Nancy Lane, left, and Margaretha Engstrom, Swedish publisher and creator of the layout driven editing practice, at the SNA Spring Publishers' Conference earlier this year.

Changing copy editing practices in your newsroom can get you additional reporters on the street, drive more productive involvement from all newsroom staffers and boost efficiency.

By Deb Shaw

Every editor and publisher who is reading this should spend 30 minutes to hear what Margaretha Engstrom has to say about the topic of Layout Driven Editing. Thanks to the SNA Foundation, you can do so for free by clicking through to the latest in a series of e-learning modules professionally produced by the NewsU division of Poynter Institute. This one is found at

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Jim Santori photo
Jim Santori

By Deb Shaw

Newsroom leaders in community and suburban media companies today are challenged to do more with less, to multi-task with multimedia, to overcome technical obstacles which often include arcane front end systems & out of date equipment, and to deal with seemingly endless hurdles be they competitive pressures, fiscal restraints, or warp speed changes in consumer expectations relative to new media. The business these days is definitely not for the faint of heart.

But, for those who have got the tenacity and willingness to position their companies to take full advantage of the audience-attracting new and emerging methods of content delivery and the inevitable economic rebound, there’s probably never been a more seminal time for true leaders to guide the way in local newsrooms.

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By Deb Shaw

Ann Hoffman photo
Ann Hoffman: “It would surprise me if there are many folks in our business who are still resisting using the web for breaking stories.”

“It would surprise me if there are many folks in our business who are still resisting using the web for breaking stories,” says Publisher Ann Hoffman who runs The Daily Advance in Elizabeth City, NC, as well as several non-daily newspapers in the region. Yet, at a recent SNA Foundation-sponsored webinar (Topic: Small Staff Can Make A Big Web Presence), one participant challenged the notion of putting news on the web first, arguing that doing so would be a threat to their single copy and subscription sales. No doubt, he is not alone in his concern.

Is there an approach that can combine these two perspectives for the benefit of both mediums? You bet there is but hold on a minute... the approach can come with a price. Daily Kingston (NY) Publisher Ira Fusfeld points out that posting an exclusive story for the web gives your competitors a heads up, enabling them to match it on line and in print. “That creates a tug of war here between the old thinking and the new. On the one hand, we want our exclusive in print. On the other hand, we want to be first with the story on the web,” comments Fusfeld.

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